Air Force Airman 1st Class Bryant Vides-Perlera pulls chocks beside an RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft as it’s towed across the flightline at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., Oct. 23, 2020. The RQ-4 measures 47 feet in length and has a wingspan of over 130 feet. Loaded with a payload, it can weigh in excess of 32,000 pounds.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is produced by Northrop Grumman. It’s a high-altitude surveillance aircraft that served in a similar capacity to the U-2 spy plane. It’s equipped with high-res SAR (synthetic aperture radar) and long-range electro-optical/infrared sensors with long loiter times over target areas. It can cover 40,000 square miles a day, an areas about the size of Iceland.
Variants of the RQ-4are used by the Air Force and NATO allies while highly specialized versions of the UAV are operated by NASA for monitoring hurricanes and tropical storms.